Bill Holder

William L. Holder ’75 served as editor of Wesleyan from 1994 until he retired in 2018.

Greenhouse Delivers the Hugo L. Black Lecture on ‘Writing the Truth in the Age of Trump’

Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 26th annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression on April 20. Greenhouse, who covered the U.S. Supreme Court from 1978 to 2008 as a New York Times reporter, spoke about “Writing the Truth in the Age of Trump.”

On April 20, Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 26th annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression in Beckham Hall. Greenhouse, who covered the U.S. Supreme Court from 1978 to 2008 as a New York Times reporter, spoke about “Writing the Truth in the Age of Trump.”

Wesleyan Receives Mellon Grant for Pedagogical Innovation


The Center for Pedagogical Innovation and Lifelong Learning (CPI) helps faculty use new technologies to benefit their teaching. Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish and director of the Center for Global Studies, uses videoconferencing technology in his class to connect with students in Madrid.

Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish and director of the Center for Global Studies, is comfortably seated in front of a semicircle of 11 students. He holds an iPad Pro that controls two large screens on the wall behind him and enables him to move effortlessly, seamlessly from Google Maps, to video clips, to text he can annotate on the iPad. All the while he converses in Spanish with his students about a movie that tells the story of a Moroccan woman repatriating the body of her brother after he died crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in a small boat.

In another class, Gonzalez and a colleague in Madrid co-teach with the help of high-quality videoconferencing technology. (See article.)

“You can’t believe what a success my trans-Atlantic classroom arrangement has become. It was as if the students in Spain were here with us,” says Gonzalez. In one class, students in Spain conversed with peers in Middletown about why certain homicides in Ciudad Juarez had not been classified as terrorism. “Talk about interculturalism!”

Technology is helping Gonzalez to teach differently and more effectively. And that’s one goal of the Center for Pedagogical Innovation and Lifelong Learning (CPI), which has been working with faculty members on new techniques and pedagogical strategies.

Now the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given the CPI a major boost with a $750,000 grant to fund its activities for the next four and a half years.

Tuition, Residential Comprehensive Fees Increase by 3.7 Percent

At its meeting March 4, the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 3.7 percent for the 2017-18 year.

Tuition and fees for the 2017–18 year will be $52,474. The residential comprehensive fee for first-year and sophomore students will be $14,466, for juniors and seniors, $16,446.

As always, Wesleyan will meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. Recent initiatives have eliminated loans for our neediest students and lowered overall student debt to levels far below the national average. Over the next four years, Wesleyan will phase in additional changes to financial aid that will result in higher grants for most students, as well as changes to student contributions, loan policies and other provisions that will benefit students and their families.

Wesleyan’s THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign, which concluded in June with $482 million raised, has seen the creation of 120 new endowed scholarships, and over $227 million in new endowment and annual funding to support financial aid.

As part of its affordability program, Wesleyan continues to offer the three-year BA option, announced in 2012 with the potential to save students about 20 percent on tuition. Since then, Wesleyan has seen a significant increase in the number of students taking advantage of this program.

President Roth to Lead Wesleyan through 2023

Donna Morea ’76, P’06, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, sent the following message to the campus community on Saturday, March 4:

Michael S. Roth '78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007.

Michael S. Roth ’78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007.

I’m pleased to announce that today, the University recognized the extraordinary leadership of President Michael S. Roth and offered him an extension of his contract. I’m delighted to report that he has committed to lead Wesleyan through 2023.

This is truly an exciting time for Wesleyan. With the support of our community and Michael’s outstanding leadership, our reputation for being at the forefront of pragmatic liberal education continues to grow. Michael led our highly successful THIS IS WHY campaign, which raised significant funds for financial aid. He has worked to deepen our resolve to cultivate a supportive campus community where all have ample opportunity to thrive and participate fully in our vibrant culture. Thanks to a concerted effort to expand recognition of Wesleyan, record numbers of students from around the world have sought the opportunity to learn here. Through a consultative process with all university constituencies, Michael is developing a vision for the future in “Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan” that will encourage and support innovations such as our new course offerings in design and engineering.

For almost 10 years now, Michael’s leadership has been crucial to Wesleyan’s success. We have been fortunate indeed to have a president who believes so deeply in our mission and advocates for it so effectively, so eloquently. He has done much to secure Wesleyan’s future and enhance recognition of our crucial role in American higher education. Under his leadership, Wesleyan has gained long-term fiscal stability through changes to our fundraising, spending and debt management. We’ve launched innovative programs, including the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and four interdisciplinary colleges.

Now more than ever, our country needs Wesleyan graduates whose liberal education has prepared them to address complex problems and create powerful opportunities. With Michael’s bold, visionary leadership and the continued support of our community, I am confident that we will meet if not surpass our high aspirations.

Shumlin ’79 Speaks to Wesleyan Community about Climate Change

On Feb. 23, Peter Shumlin ’79, who served as Governor of Vermont from 2011-2017, spoke to members of the Wesleyan community about climate change. Shumlin has been a pioneer in developing state-level policies to combat climate change, including the 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan with a goal of achieving 90 percent renewable energy in Vermont by 2050. Under his watch, 15,000 jobs were created in clean energy, solar panels increased by 1000 percent while the cost of solar fell 60 percent, and wind generation increased 400 percent.

During his talk in Shanklin Laboratory, Shumlin said Vermont is far better prepared for the next major storm, like hurricane Irene, because the state has rebuilt infrastructure with the impacts of climate change in mind. He suggested that Vermont provides a model that other states could follow for switching to renewables. Failure to adapt, he said, could lead to a dismal future, and he urged Wesleyan students to fight at the local and state level for a better future.

Shumlin also took numerous questions and comments from the audience.

(Photos by Will Bar ’18)

Peter Shumlin ’79, Governor of Vermont 2011-2017, has been a pioneer in developing state-level policies to combat climate change, including the 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan with a goal of achieving 90% renewable energy in Vermont by 2050.


Early Decision Applications Up More than 16%

Wesleyan received 742 applications for early decision this fall, an increase of 16.6 percent over last year. The increase of more than 100 applications provided Wesleyan with its biggest pool ever in early decision, according to Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid.

Additionally, Wesleyan received the most ever applications from international students, up 75 percent. Other diversity measures were also strong, with a 44 percent increase from students of color in the United States and a 56 percent increase from African American students.

“These results are most gratifying,” Meislahn said. “Potential applicants hold Wesleyan in high regard and to have so many see Wesleyan as their first and only choice should make us all proud.”

The early decision application increase follows a substantial jump last year in applications overall. For the class of 2020 entering this fall, 12,026 students had applied, marking a 22 percent increase over the previous year and a 10 percent increase over the previous all-time high three years ago for the Class of 2017.

The new Hamilton Prize has added excitement to the fall admission season, with many applicants expressing interest in the prize, a four-year full-tuition scholarship.

The Admission Office released early decisions to applicants on Dec. 10.

“We have every confidence these first members of the Class of 2021 will contribute to the vitality of the Wesleyan community. Early decision students form the heart of the class at Wesleyan and this heart is healthy and strong!” Meislahn said.

President Roth Presents Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan

wes2020In May 2010, the Board of Trustees adopted Wesleyan 2020 as a tool for strategic decision making at Wesleyan. Reflecting the input of faculty, trustees, staff, alumni and students, and designed to be flexible, this framework for planning has assisted the University in making decisions about the allocation of resources since that time.

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth has provided an update, Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan, organized under the rubric of Wesleyan’s three overarching goals: to energize Wesleyan’s distinctive educational experience; to enhance recognition of Wesleyan as an extraordinary institution; and to work within a sustainable economic model while retaining core values. Beyond 2020 outlines new investments Wesleyan can make to ensure that the university remains at the forefront of innovative, pragmatic and progressive education.

“It has become ever clearer to me,” says Roth, “that our university can continue to represent something relevant and admirable in American higher education—not just for our own alumni and friends but for a much broader constituency. Our ‘bold and rigorous’ work will add substantial value to our diplomas and has the potential to make a lasting contribution to our country and beyond. We are in a much better position now than we were a decade ago to make the investments required to make this happen.”

Roth said he will be discussing the goals of Beyond 2020 during the current academic year with various university constituencies on campus and off.

Tucker’s Conference Encourages Dialogue between Historians, Legal Scholars on the Topic of Firearms

Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of history, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies and associate professor of science in society.

Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of history, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies and associate professor of science in society.

On Sept. 14-15, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, organized a conference titled “Firearms and the Common Law Tradition,” which was held at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. In this Q&A, Tucker discusses the significance of the conference:

Q: What was distinctive about the Firearms and the Common Law Conference?

A: As far as we are aware, it was the first time that most of the historians and legal scholars involved in the debate over the Second Amendment and common law traditions relating to firearms have been in the same room and exchanged their views face to face and in pre-circulated papers. The inclusion of historians who study primarily the use of firearms across a range of historical periods (early modern England, colonial America, frontier west, etc.) was unusual in such a gathering, as was the participation of several curators of historic firearms collections in the U.K. and North America.

Q: What questions or topics were discussed?

A: What do we actually know, or take to be the case, about firearms and their uses in the Anglo-American tradition? How is the history of firearms presented and remembered? How has history been used in the arguments used in recent court cases over efforts to restrict gun rights? Everyone came away with a better and more nuanced understanding of the arguments for and against. By bringing people together (many for the first time), it informed historians about the legal stakes of the topic and also ensured a place in the discussion for historians who work on this subject.

Q: What makes the issue particularly timely?

A: The history of firearms use and regulation is playing an unprecedented role in litigation challenging firearms laws across the country. For example, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Graves ’81 Examines Campaign Communication through Behavioral Science

Christopher Graves ’81

Christopher Graves ’81

Christopher Graves ’81 is the global chairman of Ogilvy Public Relations and formerly held senior positions with CNBC Asia and CNBC Europe. This summer the Rockefeller Foundation and ideas42 selected him for a prestigious Bellagio Residency, where he has continued his work to turn findings from cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics into practical applications in communications.

In this election season, Graves has co-authored several online posts for Harvard Business Review, analyzing communications from the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns. Below are highlights with links to the full posts:

The Art and Science Behind the Negative TV Ads of Trump and Clinton

There is a deep and deeply confusing body of research on negative ads and voter turnout.  There have been findings that negative ads: a) have no impact; b) decrease voter turnout; c) increase voter turnout; d) both increase and decrease turnout depending on the party and the timing.  One recent study looking back more than a decade says negative ads work better to mobilize Republican voters than Democrats. Another claims to find that Independents stop voting when both major parties go negative.

Campus Update

The following is the text of an email sent to campus today by Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs.

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

I’m writing to update you on a personnel matter. In June, we were contacted by a reporter from The Boston Globe, who informed us that an investigation had revealed that former Associate Dean of Students Scott Backer had been terminated from his previous job at Vermont Academy for inappropriate conduct that had not been previously disclosed to us. We immediately investigated the allegations, and he was terminated within 24 hours for having concealed the matter. He was not alleged to have had any inappropriate behavior while at Wesleyan.

This was the first time that Wesleyan learned of this matter. As part of the hiring process, Wesleyan received positive reviews of Mr. Backer in written references from and phone interviews with senior administrators at Vermont Academy. Likewise, no information was revealed in the background check. Had we been aware of this information, Mr. Backer never would have been hired.

As you may be aware, in his position here at Wesleyan, Mr. Backer managed case flow for student conduct cases. He served on, and frequently led hearing panels. Wesleyan has in place a system of checks and balances (other team members, panel members, and appeal rights) to ensure all cases are adjudicated fairly and properly. In an abundance of caution, we engaged Pepper Hamilton, a nationally renowned firm with expertise in campus discipline and Title IX issues to conduct a review of cases handled by Mr. Backer. The auditors completed their review and reported no concerning issues or impropriety.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at, or Title IX Officer Antonio Farias at


Dean Mike Whaley

Employees Receive Cardinal Achievement Awards

The following employees received Cardinal Achievement Awards in April, May and June for their efforts in demonstrating extraordinary initiative in performing a specific task associated with their work at Wesleyan University.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for their extra efforts:

Liliana Carrasquillo-Vasquez, area coordinator, Residential Life

Olivia Drake, editor and campus photographer, University Communications

Terry Emmons, accounting specialist, Chemistry Department

James Huerta, senior assistant dean, Admission Office

Elizabeth Mainella, serials administrator, Olin Library

Jeffrey McDonald, assistant football coach, Physical Education

Emily Pagano, area coordinator, Residential Life

Paul Turenne, senior associate registrar, Registrar’s Office

Joy Vodak, associate director, Academic Affairs

Randy Wilson, library assistant, Olin Library